The following information has been extracted from Alumni Cantabrigienses, Volume 4 of a Biography of Reginald Pole by Reginald Pole, Thomas Frederick Mayer and Courtney B. Walters and the Clergy of the Church of England Database.
John Atherton entered the University of Cambridge and was awarded the degree of B.A. in 1540 and that of M.A. in 1545. The following year he became one of the ten founding Fellows of Trinity College in that University.
John became Vicar of Hatfield Broad Oak in Essex on 25 September 1548. He was also instituted as Vicar of Aldingbourne on 11 April 1552 and as that of West Dean on 8 April 1553, both benefices being in the county of Sussex. However, in 1554 he resigned from the first of these livings, and was deprived of that of Aldingbourne on 20 September and that of West Dean on 13 October.
John was installed as Vicar of Eastbourne on 23 July 1555, as Rector of Folkington on 18 July of the following year, as that of Waldron on 28 April 1558, and as Vicar of Rye on 24 January 1559, all four benefices being in the county of Sussex. However, he was replaced as Vicar of Eastbourne in 1559.
John was installed as a Prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral on 28 May 1562, and later that year, on 28 December, was collated to the Rectory of Thorley. On 13 January immediately following he was also installed as Rector of Leaden Roding in Essex. He resigned as Rector of Rye in 1564.
John vacated the Rectory of Folkington in 1570, in which year, on 17 March, he was installed as Vicar of Lastingham in North Yorkshire. He resigned from the benefice of Leaden Roading in 1571 and was installed as Rector of Gilling in Cleveland on 17 May 1572. John resigned from the Rectory of Thorley in 1573, but remained Vicar of Lastingham and Rector of Gilling until his death in 1598.
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